The first rule is, never get so drunk at the office holiday party you live to regret it. Too bad not many people take that advice. Who doesn’t want to see people who ordinarily get on our nerves drinking and flirting? Is there anything better than watching your boss dance?
But sometimes, we’re the fool, have a little too much Christmas punch and wake up with Joe from IT the next morning — and he didn’t come there to fix the computer. Whoops.
Workplace expert Dan Schawbel has seen this scenario a million times before, and the first thing he advises it to, well, don’t do that.
“You want to prevent it before it happens,” Schawbel tells Personal Space, “but it’s getting harder to separate personal and professional, people hooking up at work is growing, millennials have a big work hookup culture.”
Be prepared, if you do go bonkers at the office bash, the gossip will spread, “even if one person sees it,” says Schawbel, and soon the entire office will know.
“You will certainly undermine your potential in the company even if you are a good employee,” he says.
Your best bet is that people forget, or even better that you are so well-liked and such a good coworker, that everyone kind of lets your one-time behavior slide.
“It is what it is, don’t stand in front of everyone and apologize, but it could undermine your credibility or prevent you from doing your best work if you are not the best employee,” he says.
You can redeem yourself through your work, Schawbel adds.
“The best way is to just continue to be really good at your job,” he says. “Support your manager and coworkers at achieving their goals and do more than what’s expected. If you help other people, they tend to look past what you did and the gossip. If you help on a successful project, people will forget about the holiday party.”
Schawbel says that unless you’re doing harm to others then you can prevent gossip from getting worse by helping other people be successful at their job.
And if you did bring home a coworker, or went home with one — keep mum if all was consensus and cool.
“There’s a very low chance people will bring it up directly,” Schawbel says. “If you didn’t cause them harm, then don’t say anything. If you need to talk to the person, say ‘this needs to be kept outside of work,’ [and] tell them that when you can isolate them outside of work.”
If people continue to gossip, take the high road.
“Ignore it. All you can do is replenish your reputation by being a high performer. People will look past it because everyone is selfish when it comes to their careers. You want to divert the attention from this matter to getting your work done.”
A survey done by NPR found that one in four employees admitted to getting too tipsy at an office soiree — and later regretted their behavior. Nearly all — 80 percent — of those surveyed said they’d seen co-workers embarrass themselves after one too many.
"I do think, sometimes, employees forget that the office rules apply at an office party," says Nigel Wilkinson, a partner in the firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips' Washington, D.C., office.
The events that unfold at office parties can lead to litigious outcomes, Wilkinson tells us. "The most typical [are] sexual harassment claims," he says, adding, "but the relaxed atmosphere can lead to racist jokes, or an employee can injure themselves or injure someone else ... I've seen all of these."
Some of you told us you have, too: "All I'm going to say is that once you've had to be deposed under oath about what happened at the office party, you pretty much give up drinking at them. Or, in my case, even attending,” one person wrote.
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